Protesters hold up a sign near the White House following the Women's March on Washington last January. Similar protests may be restricted through fees or limited venues under rules proposed by the National Park Service.
Protesters hold up a sign near the White House following the Women's March on Washington last January. Similar protests may be restricted through fees or limited venues under rules proposed by the National Park Service. (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP/Getty Images)

The Senate could soon be voting on whether to confirm President Donald Trump's pick for director of National Park Service, Raymond David Vela. In confirmation hearings, Mr. Vela must pledge to oppose dangerous new rules that would severely limit the right to protest near the White House and on the National Mall.

The proposed rules would ban protests from 80 percent of the White House sidewalk, limit the ability to engage in spontaneous demonstrations in response to breaking news on the National Mall and near the White House, and even open the door to charging a fee for anyone who wants to exercise their constitutional free speech rights. It would also enact unprecedented restrictions on signs, banners, and speakers' platforms.

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If fee requirements were in effect in the 1960s, they could have blocked some of the most important demonstrations in our country's history from ever happening like the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. That doesn't sound like America to me! I urge Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin to do whatever they can to assure Mr. Vela respects the rights of Americans or oppose his confirmation.

Peta N. Richkus, Towson

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